Show business has always been a family affair for Cher. When she reinvented herself as a nightclub performer after the demise of Sonny & Cher, she brought her two young children along for the ride. “They don’t realize that growing up on the road isn’t normal,” she said in 1979. “[But] I think it would be worse if I left them home alone and just visited occasionally.”

Between performances, Cher tried to give them her full attention by roller skating, bicycling, and even bathing with them. “We have a gigantic tub just for that purpose,” she once revealed. She is one of the world’s most famous women, but Cher put her heart into raising her kids. Becoming a mom for the first time in 1969 “changed my whole life,” the legend admitted. Cher is mom to Chaz Bono, her transgender son with Sonny Bono, and Elijah Blue Allman, born in 1976, whose father was musician Gregg Allman. Though her marriages proved hard to sustain, motherhood suited Cher. “I really like being a mother,” she said. “I’ve got children that are absolutely the best thing in the world.”

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Cher and her son Chaz in 2010.

Fans saw that love in Cher’s eyes when Chaz, who was born Chastity, would come on episodes of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Chaz “gives me more pleasure than anything else,” the doting mom has said. After her acrimonious 1975 divorce from Sonny, Cher tried to remain civil with him for Chaz’s sake. “Sonny was a great parent for a young child,” she said.

The performer made an even harder sacrifice a few years later when she left her second husband, Gregg, to protect their son from his father’s drug dependency. “You know, I loved him,” she said of the guitarist who died in May 2017. “But I really didn’t want Elijah around him alone.” Like any caring parent, she tried to keep her kids out of harm’s way, but it wasn’t always possible. “Elijah was more of a rebel than I was,” Chaz said. This wild streak led to a drug habit, rehab, and years of estrangement from his mother. “You can’t beat people into doing what you want them to do,” reasoned Cher, who supported her son even when they weren’t speaking. “I’ve always been the black sheep of my family,” Elijah confessed. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs.”

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Cher and her son Elijah in 2002.

Cher also struggled with Chaz’s 2009 transition from a woman into a man. “It has been difficult for my mother, but I respect that. It’s a process of grieving for a child you’ve lost and adjusting to the new one taking their place,” said Chaz. “We are developing a new relationship.”

Elijah, an artist and musician, has become closer to his mother again since his 2013 marriage. “I did the best I could do, and yet it was definitely lacking,” Cher said. She is grateful to have both her children in her life again. “My relationship with my kids is great right now,” she happily said. “Let’s freeze this moment because God knows what’ll happen tomorrow.”

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